Byline: Keith Naughton Bloomberg News
Ford Motor Co., the second-largest U.S. automaker, and Toyota Motor Corp., Asia's biggest car company, are each saying they produce the best-selling car in the world in the first half. Their definitions are the key.
Focus was the world's top-selling "single-car nameplate," -- a vehicle sold under only one name -- with 489,616 sales in 2012's first six months, topping Corolla's 462,187, Ford said in statement that cited researcher IHS Automotive. Toyota said its first-half Corolla sales total is 603,840, including Corolla derivatives such as the wagon sold in the U.S. as the Matrix.
Auto companies use sales supremacy as a marketing tool to attract buyers. Ford Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally has set a goal to boost global sales by 50 percent to 8 million vehicles by 2015. That goal has come under pressure as growth has slowed in China and the European market has declined to its lowest level in 17 years.
"We are proud of the momentum and customer demand for the Ford Focus around the world," Mark Truby, a company spokesman, said in an e-mailed statement.
In addition to the Matrix, the calculation by IHS left out sales of Toyota's Auris, as the Corolla is known in Europe, and the Corolla Verso wagon that is sold in Japan, said Chris Hopson, a sales analyst for IHS. The researcher also excluded a Focus derivative, the C-Max wagon, from Ford's total, he said.
Toyota has sold 722,000 Corolla worldwide through July, said Mike Michels, a spokesman based in Torrance, California, where the Toyota City, Japan-based automaker has its U.S. sales headquarters.
"Corolla Verso, Auris and Matrix have been consistently recognized and reported as Corollas in sales results," Michels said in an e-mail.
Toyota sold about 48,000 Auris models and 58,000 Corolla Versos in the first half, Hopson said.
"In the world of lies, damn lies and statistics, I'm sure Toyota is thinking this is one of those instances," Hopson said in an interview. "The data we supplied to Ford was nameplate level only, just Focus to Corolla."
Ford's European Focus sales were included in the count.
The automaker introduced a redesigned version of the small car worldwide last year.
"The Focus is attracting many new customers to the Ford brand for the very first time, particularly in Asia," Jim Farley, Ford's global marketing chief, said in a statement issued out of Thailand, where it was celebrating the production of the company's 350 millionth vehicle, a Focus. …